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A review of...

I Love You, Honeybear by Father John Misty

I Love You, Honeybear
Date: 
February 9, 2015
Writer: 
John Wilson
8.0

The gist

Ex-Fleet Fox reinvents himself as the bastard offspring of Harry Nilsson

The music

Coming nearly three years after 2012’s Fear Fun, Father John Misty (aka former Fleet Foxes member J Tillman) returns with his latest offering that for the most part channels the spirit of Harry Nilsson, Gene Clark and even early 70s Elton John. Kicking off with the title track, “I Love You, Honeybear” it's a record that is at once profane and profound in its lyrical content. In a sense the album is conceptual in its tracing of the start, middle and successful conclusion of a love affair although it successfully escapes the mawkishness that could have easily resulted. The air of Laurel Canyon is prevalent throughout the record and its country-tinged sound is augmented by the use of Paul Buckmaster-esque strings, evoking Madman Across the Water era Elton John (before the wigs, track suits and tennis set in) particularly on the minor key “Bored in the USA”. Similar to his previous offering, I Love You, Honeybear wears its Harry Nilsson-influences on its sleeve be it the baroque bar room weariness of “Nothing Good Ever Happens at the Goddamn Thirsty Crow” or the penultimate “Holy Shit” with its “A Day in the Life” aping orchestral swell. Despite the very occasional misstep (the synthetic electro of “True Affection" seems badly out of place in the context of the album as a whole), J Tillman has created a fantastically compelling album that successfully navigates the choppy waters between fragility and baroque.

Listen to

“Nothing Good Ever Happens at the Goddamn Thirsty Crow” – Harry Nilsson lives on this bar room romp, relocated to the wilds of life on tour.

“Bored in the USA” – a minor key ballad lifted by restrained strings which thankfully owes nothing to Bruce “The CEO” Springsteen.